I’m not a Raelian. I don’t think cloning is the key to eternal life. I don’t particularly want a clone. I’d rather have a child the old fashioned way. But I don’t have any problem if someone else wants a clone. The hysteria over cloning is out of control. Society has nothing to fear from a couple of clones.

Paul Wong
Jess Piskor

With all the hoopla over the negative consequences of cloning, you would think scientists had developed a bomb of such magnitude it could destroy the world – oh wait, we already have that. Our concerns over science run amok, while valid, are often entirely misplaced. People want to ban clones, yet far more sinister things are embraced.

There are no good reasons to really oppose cloning. Very few people actually want clones. This is important since many of the doomsday scenarios circulating about cloning stem from fears of watering down the gene pool and destroying genetic diversity. But really, would a few rich, identical twins really make any difference? We will never live in a society where even a sizable minority of people see cloning as the preferred method of reproduction. Sex is too much fun and cloning is too expensive.

Another totally improbable fear is worry about an army of cloned, brainwashed, killer ninjas. That might work in Star Wars, but in the real world there are easier paths to world domination. Let’s pretend you’re an evil dictator hell-bent on conquering the world. Would you rather invest your money in nuclear weapons, advanced jet fighters, Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, nerve gas and smallpox, or waste your money on cloned foot soldiers? You actually think the clones are a better investment? How are you going to feed these troops? Do you really want to wait 18 years for them to mature into grown fighters? What if they rebel like all good teenagers and overthrow your government? Should you clone them each girlfriends and boyfriends?

Well, okay but what about the trial and error aspect. All these cloned animals seem to have a lot of genetic deformities. Isn’t it wrong to clone humans knowing that a large portion of them will be somehow handicapped or unhealthy. This is a legitimate reason to be wary of cloning now. People shouldn’t rush out to get clones until the science is proven. But these problems can theoretically be corrected. It doesn’t make sense to permanently ban human cloning because it is a new and therefore imperfect science.

It’s unfortunate that a fringe group was the first to claim a cloned human, since it tends to cast a negative light on all cloning. It’s easy to say, “Look at these crazy people. Do we really want them cloning anything?” But we would be asking the same questions if the Raelians had been the first to invent guns or to live in Ohio. Ask yourself “Do we really want them armed with machine guns?” Their eccentricity causes us to scoff at the serious good that can come from cloning.

Cloning can allow for infertile or homosexual couples to reproduce from their own genes. While in vitro fertilization and fertility drugs often are all that is needed, most people would agree that it would be nice if we could ensure couples (and single mothers) have children if they want them. Of course, plenty of people disagree with that statement, but then again, a lot of them disagree because they don’t think homosexuals or single mothers should have kids at all.

I oppose banning human cloning for the same reason I am wary of any law that restricts abortion – it opens the door for further restrictions. If we ban human cloning, therapeutic cloning and stem-cell research could also be hurt. The Bush administration would like to see a ban on all cloning and is very wary of stem-cell research. These medical advances could hold the key to curing many chronic illnesses and other health problems.

Children are affected as much by their environment than their genes. Cloned kids aren’t going to be the same as their parents. Their fingerprints won’t be the same. They’ll be a different age and will have different hairstyles. They will always be rare. What’s the big deal? Besides, who wouldn’t want a personal army of cloned, brainwashed, killer ninjas?

Jess Piskor can be reached at jpiskor@umich.edu.

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